Aigles Bleus sweep X-Men to advance to AUS semifinals versus UNB

Photo by Kendra Vigneau
Photo by Kendra Vigneau

(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) With a 4-2 victory Friday night over the StFX X-Men, the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus have advanced to the Subway AUS Men's Hockey Playoffs semi-final series after winning the best-of-three quarter-final series 2-0. 

The Aigles Bleus advance to play first place UNB in a best 3-of-5 semifinal series. Saint Mary's defeated UPEI 2-0 in the other AUS quarterfinal series and will play Acadia. 

The loss marks the first time the X-Men have not advanced to semifinal play since 2014 when they were eliminated 2-0 by the same Moncton squad. 

Joey Richard (Dieppe, N.B.) scored the game wining goal with five and a half minutes left in the third period to seal the victory for the Aigles Bleus.   

The X-Men opened up the scoring in the game just over five minutes into the first period as they scored five seconds into a power play. Cole MacDonald (Westaskiwin, Alta.) got the puck off the face-off win, slid it across to Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, Ont.) who let loose a shot on goal. Mark Tremaine (Dartmouth, N.S.) was in front of the Aigles Bleus net to tip it in past Étienne Montpetit (Valleyfield, Que.). 

Moncton evened it up at 8:20 as Ryan Chiasson (Dieppe, N.B.) scored off a goal crease scramble. X-Men netminder Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, N.S.) made the initial save off a shot from Alexandre Bernier (Dieppe, N.B.) but the X-Men could not clear the puck from in front of the net and Chiasson pounced on it. 

The 1-1 tie held up until the end of the period as shots were fairly even, 8-7 in favour of Moncton. 

StFX had their chances to score in the second period but could not solve Montpetit. Jeremiah Addison (Etibicoke, Ont.) had a key chance with an open cage late in the period but hit the post. 

The visiting Aigles Bleus went ahead 2-1 with 1:50 left in the second period as Édouard Michaud (Sherbrooke, Que.) picked up a puck in front from Vincent Millette (Blainville, Que.) and put it into the X net. 

Moncton had a 16-12 shot advantage in the middle period. 

The X-Men responded early in the third period as they kept the momentum going after a power play opportunity. Regan Spears (Port Hood, N.S.) tipped in a Matt Needham (Kamloops, B.C.) shot from the point at 4:49 to even the game 2-2. 

StFX kept the pressure on and had some luck on their side as Moncton's Maxime St-Cyr (St-Didace, Que.) hit a cross bar with eight minutes to play. 

Richard took the wind out of the X sails, however, with his go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner at 14:27. Danick Crete (Rigaud, Que.) feathered a nice, long pass through the neutral zone, hitting Richard just outside the blue line then he broke in alone on Mann-Dixon and beat him five-hole as the puck squeezed through the pads and trickled into the back of the net. 

The X-Men pressed for the equalizer in a hard-hitting third period and pulled Mann-Dixon with 1:45 left to play in favour of the extra attacker.  

St-Cyr scored an empty netter for Moncton with 31 seconds left to play to seal the victory. 

With 29 saves on the night, Montpetit was named the Subway player of the game for the Aigles Bleus. Spears received the same honour for the X-Men. 

Final shots in the game were 35-31 for Moncton. 

The Aigles Bleus will now take on the UNB Reds in the best-of-five semifinal series. The AUS conference has three berths at the U SPORTS national championship being hosted in Halifax March 12-15—the host Acadia Axemen, plus two others. 

Source: StFX Sports Information

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